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NMIT cookery apprentices pull one out of the box

25 Mar 2013

A 'mystery box' of ingredients, first class training, teamwork and the pressure of the clock - all these factors came together for a Preston team of NMIT cookery apprentices last week when they took out the gold medal in the Victorian TAFE Cookery Challenge.

The Victorian TAFE Cookery Challenge is Victoria's most prestigious teams event for apprentices and the NMIT team outperformed six other cookery schools including William Angliss, Gordon TAFE, Chisholm Institute, Holmesglen TAFE, Kangan Institute, Swinburne.

The NMIT team of Keelan Gallogly (Captain),Tom Carew-Ried, Beth Candy and David Januszkiewicz all study the Certificate III in Hospitality (Commercial Cookery) at NMIT's Preston campus while completing apprenticeships at some of Melbourne's well known restaurants including Rockpool Bar and Grill Melbourne, the RACV City Club and The Meeting Pool Restaurant (Monsalvat).

Improvisation, creativity and quick thinking were all tested during the Challenge as competitors didn't know what they will be working with until the very last minute when they opened a 'mystery box' of ingredients.

“Our students spent nearly two months preparing for the event,” said NMIT cookery staff member, Greg Payne, who, along with fellow NMIT staffer, Urs Reusser, prepared the NMIT team. “They put in many hours of practice after classes and we often trained with a mystery box of seasonal items. I'm a big believer in using local seasonal and organic produce. I think this helped me to anticipate what was going to be in the box on the big day and the students told me later that I was pretty spot on.”

Once the mystery ingredients had been revealed the students had three and a half hours to produce four entrées, four mains and four desserts before a panel of industry judges including leading Melbourne Chef, George Hill.

“Once the box was opened the race was on and the students had to use their creative and teamwork skills while working against the clock,” says Payne. “They were judged on a number of criteria including consistency of plating, balance of flavour, texture, temperature and hygiene to name a few.”

By the end of the competition the NMIT team had produced a mouth watering selection of dishes including:

• Crispy skinned quail with beetroot purée, parisienne beets, celery and witlof salad and orange jelly.
• Lamb back strap with artichoke puree, Dutch carrots, fondant potato, parsnip chips and salsa Verde.
• Raspberry Bavarois, spiced caramel mousse, mango leather, citrus compote.

For Team Captain and Rockpool apprentice, Keelan Gallogly, and his teammates the win represents a significant milestone in the early stages of their Hospitality careers.

“Even to enter this competition shows employers that you have the drive to succeed in the industry,” says Keelan. “The win will definitely be a highlight on all our résumés as it is seen as a huge positive by employers. The competition was a lot of fun and there was really friendly mood. The whole team is grateful to Greg and Urs for training us up.”

Winning team to cook for NMIT Master Chef Dinner
The team of NMIT cookery apprentices will reproduce their winning menu at NMIT's next Master Chef Dinner at the Institute's St Georges Restaurant (Preston campus) on Tuesday 14 September. To book contact Andrew Shepherd on 03 9269 1229

Super opportunity to explore a career in cookery
Those interested in a cookery career or even just improving their cooking skills for personal enjoyment can check out their training options and the commercial cookery facilities at NMIT's Preston campus during the Super Thursday information day on August 18. Go to for more details.

See Also Competition photos on Club Chef Facebook page

Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.

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